Monday, June 9, 2014

Random Thoughts on the Ultimate Invasive Species

Nutria hunting in Louisiana. What do you call it when an "invasive species" is hunted by the ultimate invasive species - humankind? 

Here's a factoid I bet you didn't know: The United States government kills millions of animals per year.

In 2013, the federal government "shot, poisoned, snared, or trapped" some 4 million animals. Animals on the government's "hit list" include bobcats, coyotes, river otters, foxes, black bears, as well as (according to The Washington Post) "greedy feral hogs, giant swamp rats called nutria, big aggressive Argentine lizards called tegus and swarms of hungry starlings...."

Most of the killings are carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services. According to a recently released statistics, the killings in 2013 included:

• 75,326 coyotes
• 866 bobcats
• 528 river otters
• 3,700 foxes
• 12,186 prairie dogs
• 978 red-tailed hawks
• 419 black bears
• three eagles (that we know of), both the golden and bald variety

As noted above, all of these are said to be "invasive species." But what is the real "invasive species"?

Let's review the evidence:

• What animal has destroyed the earth's rainforest at an alarming rate, with no end in sight?
• What animal has drained the earth of its oil, mined every potential deposit of every resource imaginable, polluted until holes formed int the ozone, and wiped out entire ecosystems in the name of progress?
• What animal is responsible for more mass extinctions than any other animal on earth?
• What is the only animal in this world that intentionally inflicts sadism and mass murder on other animals, including its own species?
• What animal has spilled oil on nearly every stretch of beach from Alaska to South America, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, up and down the Atlantic Coast, and in nearly every other part of the world?
• What animal...

Oh hell, you get the picture! I realize these rhetorical questions get tiresome, and I'm sorry to inundate you with them. However, the purpose here is to raise an important point about which species is truly the "invasive" one. I think we all know the answer.

Unfortunately, there are some cases when the mass extermination of certain wild animals is done to offset terrible damage. For example, it is widely known that nutria can - and, indeed, have - severely damage wetlands across North America. To allow them to continue to multiply and spread unchecked means the continued destruction of these delicate ecosystems.

Still, there is "context" - there is a "big picture" - behind this wanton destruction of animal life by the U.S. government. Human beings, with their malevolent collective notions of progress, development, globalization, commodification, unfettered markets, and growth for the sake of growth (which the late, great Christopher Hitchens called "the ideology of cancer") are inflicting far greater destruction on the earth than any invasive species.

These same destructive tendencies are what lead us as a species to collectively believe that animals are things - commodities, products, items to be bought and sold - things with a price tag on their heads, sometimes literally. Factory farming is far more destructive to the environment than all the nutria in the world combined.

If we do not stop to reexamine the core values that got us to the global environmental crisis where we are now - greed, violence, denial, an absence of empathy - then we will continue to witness this insane paradox of human beings destroying "invasive species," even as the ultimate invasive species continues to carry out the slow (alas, sometimes not so slow) murder of Earth.

1 comment:

  1. When I first began the vegan journey...and for me it's an ongoing one because perspectives continue to change, understandings sometimes increase and information often grows on an ongoing basis...I stumbled across the information about taxpayer sponsored murder. Usually to help wealthy killers of animals have more of the right "kind" of animal to kill (they call themselves ranchers). It sickened me then and sickens me now and one other little government piece of slickery should be noted (the first slickery is calling murder a "service") it is that many (if not most) U.S. national "wildlife refuges" aren't refuges at all but rather used as shooting galleries for "hunters" on a regular and routine basis.

    In defense of the Nutria (and for that matter many other "invasive" species). This being's original home area was South America...but...stupid and greedy human animals interfered and took Nutrias and : "introduced (them) to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, primarily by fur ranchers."

    So...the invasive species was made to be so by the ultimate invasive species trying to manipulate living beings for profit. If it weren't the case that Nutria harm the environment for beings besides humans...I would personally cheer them on because anything they might do to us...we brought it on ourselves.

    Who's going to "manage" the ultimate invasive species? I fear we're choosing to have environmental destruction/depletion do our managing for us...I can't feel too bad for us...we're doing it to ourselves...but I can feel bad for the "collateral damage" victims...and do...even including the Nutria.

    This post hits a nerve with me...because the "wildlife services" thing ensures that I do not live fully vegan. Some of my tax-money pays for this...I am supporting the purposive harming living beings...and this harming is not is being done to help other make a profit. That sickens me.